New World, New Art: The Asian Artist in America | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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New World, New Art: The Asian Artist in America

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If we imagine an Asian-American teeter-totter with "Asian" riding one end and "American" the other, this festival would be stuck to the ground on the "American" side. The Navy Pier performances are emceed by TV and movie stars (George Takei, Lauren Tom), and the acts include a hip-hop turntablist (DJ Shortkut) and a band that blends country and western and Filipino music (Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel). Also on the bill are performers of Western classical music (Li-Kuo Chang, Jennifer Cheung, and John Bruce Yeh) and the modern-dance group H.T. Chen & Dancers, which presents very Americanized pieces about the Asian-American experience. The acts holding down the Asian fort, meanwhile, are primarily dance: Il Kwa Nori, traditional Korean dance and drumming; the Chinese Xilin Lion Dancers; and Chicago's own Natyakalalayam Dance Company. These performances are likely to look very traditional: the 14 dancers in Natyakalalayam's Asha ("A Hope") will wear their customary bells, headdresses, and brocaded, bejeweled outfits, and their movements will come from the 3,000-year-old bible of classical Indian dance, the Natya Shastra. But Krithika Rajagopalan's choreography for the piece, according to her mother, Hema, has "evolved" from classical forms, and the dance aims for universality by showing the nonviolent resolution of conflict. Natyakalalayam offers two free community shows before the Navy Pier performances: Monday at 4 in the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630), and Tuesday at 2 at the Duncan YMCA Chernin's Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt (312-738-5999). So does H.T. Chen & Dancers: Wednesday at 11 AM at the Chinese Community Center, 250 W. 22nd Pl. (312-225-0303), and Wednesday at 4:30 at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton in Skokie (847-673-7774). There are several free public discussions (see "Special Events" in the art listings in this section) and free musical performances (see music listings in Section Three). Regular performances are Thursday, August 5, and next Friday, August 6, at 7:30 at the Skyline Stage at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; $18. Call 312-595-7437 or 312-559-1212 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/A.N. JHA.

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